The outbreak of the global Covid pandemic has completely overturned the way businesses worldwide are carried out. They have adopted some comprehensive ways to continue their dealings, often with lowered revenues and reduced staff. In this situation, some firms have adopted automation to address a range of business needs, from infrastructure to customer experience.
This blog tells you what business automation is, which tasks in a business can be automated, why your business needs automation to thrive in this Covid-19 crisis, and how you can implement business automation.
What is Business Automation?
Business automation involves the use of technology to automatically carry out manually performed, recurring processes or tasks in a business. The purpose of business automation is cost reduction, process streamlining, and increased efficiency.
Here are some examples of business automation to provide you with a better comprehension of the concept.
● Business automation for purchasing order
Purchase order requests are monotonous and repetitive tasks in most businesses. The purchase requesting team submits a purchase order form to the purchasing team. The purchasing team sends it to the approving authority, which either approves or disapproves the request based on its adequacy and budget availability.
The approval or rejection of the request is then resent to the requesting team. If approved, the requesting team sends the purchase order to the inventory team and the supplier. Manual processing of purchase orders can delay approval, adversely affect productivity, have errors, and lead to incomplete records. All these can be eliminated via business automation.
Business automation facilitates enhanced transparency and accountability. It also allows the accurate recording of data and makes it accessible to the team members involved. It also keeps track of all communication related to the process within the workflow, thereby making the execution faster and easier.
● Business automation for recruitment
The process of recruiting staff for your firm may appear to be a trouble-free process. However, it involves a lot of procedures such as filling up forms with employee details, conducting introductory sessions, setting up training sessions, creating bank accounts, obtaining certificates and other documents, allocating mentors, etc.
All these involve endless paperwork, are error-prone, and lead to low productivity and employee dissatisfaction. Employing business automation to your hiring procedure will simplify the entire procedure, keeping concerned staff in the loop and ensuring visibility into the process’s status.
Which tasks in a business can be automated?
Other than purchasing order processing and employee on boarding, many other business tasks can be automated. Here is a list of those.
- Time and attendance tracking
- Helpdesk support
- Expense approval
- The call center processes
- Sales orders
- Vacation requests
- Travel requests
- Data aggregation and migration
- Product launches
- Lead nurturing
- Email and push notifications
- Customer case study creations
- Employee leave requests
- Backup and restoration
Why do you need business automation during Covid-19 crisis?
1. To facilitate digital transformation
Digital transformation is what every business needs today to keep pace with today’s technological advancements and overpower the current downtrodden economy. Those businesses that haven’t entered into it yet can adopt business automation as the first step into a culture of life-long transformation. Initially, you can employ it for a few business-critical processes and slowly work your way up.
2. To facilitate the timely collection of funds
In these times of economic struggle, timely collection of the cash that businesses need to get from different sources is crucial. However, many businesses find it difficult to do this manually. This is where automation comes in handy to facilitate prompt and convenient collection of funds and increase your business efficiency.
3. To enable business continuity
Most businesses haven’t established a business continuity plan to continue their effective operation during a disaster like what we are experiencing today. This is because the epidemic came upon suddenly at least expected moment. And no business ever expected that all locations on the globe would be affected by it. In such a scenario, the only way to continue the business operation for most firms is business automation- thanks to this technological advancement.
4. To streamline processes
Your business certainly involves a lot of procedures to be performed daily. Business automation helps streamline these procedures by introducing faster turnaround times, clear accountability, customized notifications, and valuable insights, which are essential, especially during this crisis. And in turn, these eliminate unnecessary tasks from the list so that your team can concentrate better on their core activities to add value.
5. To secure income sources
Most businesses and organizations depend on their human staff to maintain their sources of income. The Covid-19 pandemic has shattered this system. People are forced to stay at their homes. So, jobs that necessitate manual performance have been immensely hindered. This has affected vital workflows. Business automation can bring an ideal solution to this issue and secure your income sources.
6. To maintain a favorable customer experience
Providing a good customer experience is of utmost importance to any business. However, many of them find it hard to handle customer requests and queries during this crisis time. This is largely owed to inadequate staff and experience in this regard. Another significant reason is the increase in the volume of users contacting them. Business automation can act as a savior in these circumstances and fabricate a memorable customer experience for your brand.
7. To allow task prioritization
In those good times before the worldwide pandemic, businesses could carry out all tasks, irrespective of their importance. But now, that’s not the case. Businesses need to identify which tasks are business-critical (i.e., essential for continuing the business) and which are not. However, deciding upon these is a tough task that needs to weigh the pros against the cons. Business automation can help out businesses in this regard. For, by analyzing an automated process, you can gain insights into these.
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So, business automation is the need of the hour for your business to thrive and succeed in this crisis time. However, a large percentage of firms and organizations haven’t yet stepped into this realm. They are still too dependent on human staff for performing their core business processes. So, they aren’t equipped to adapt to survive catastrophic times like these.
How to implement business automation for your business?
Business automation involves several processes. Going by the step-by-step manner given below will ensure that you benefit from automation.
1. Identify the areas that need automation
Your business, like any other business, would involve many operational workflows. You need to identify those workflows that need to be automated. We suggest that you choose tiresome and repetitive tasks and those tasks where you want to see improvement for automation.
Some common tasks that require too much monotonous work and consume a lot of your employees’ time are processing invoices, sending template emails, and filling in the CRM. Automating these would lead to more effectiveness and productivity in your business.
2. Come up with a list of features needed
After identifying the areas of your business that would benefit from being automated, write down the list of features needed to implement automation in those areas. For you need to find software that offers these features and suits your business goals. For example, suppose you want to enjoy more success from your marketing efforts. In that case, you should choose a tool that has features for improving lead generation and building initial contacts with your customers.
3. Ensure easy integration
Your business would be using different digital tools for its efficient running. The automation tool that you choose should easily integrate with the other tools and systems that your business is currently using. Else, those can end up working against each other and disrupting the entire workflow process. This can do more harm than good.
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So, if you are using Shopify CRM for your e-commerce store, make sure that the automation tool you choose allows Shopify plugins to customize the system for your business.
4. Test your tool
Your business automation tool should be easy to install and use. You and your team members should be able to navigate it without facing hardships. If this is not the case, the time-saving benefits of automation will be just nullified.
You should therefore check your tool in action. This way, you can confirm that the tasks you are automating work smoothly. It would be better if you do this with the help of a Quality Assurance engineer. For, these professionals are adept at easily automating even the most puzzling and complex workflow. This can make its usage a pleasant experience for even a fresher.
4. Use IPA
Now that you are ready to adopt automation to your business, it is better to go for Intelligent Process Automation (IPA), which is the next generation of automation. It includes advancements like Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML), Object Character Recognition (OCR), Natural Language Processing (NLP), and Robotic Process Automation (RPA).
Applying one or more of these will automate a majority of your tasks (50 to 70%), increase your revenue significantly, and reduce time consumption by more than half. For example, you can employ AI and NLP-powered chatbots to act as your 24×7 representatives at your site.
5. Take into account the support provided
While buying a business automation solution, one of the prime things you need to consider is the customer support from its provider. You certainly are going to need unwavering support from them. So, make sure that it offers round-the-clock assistance from human support representatives. You should be able to reach them through multiple channels such as email, phone, help desk, live chat, etc.
Additionally, the provider should also have an adequate knowledge base from where you can help yourself. You can get to know the real state of such affairs by reading customer reviews at sites like Capterra, G2.com, TrustRadius, Software Advice, SoftwareSuggest, etc.
6. Security matters
Though business automation comes with a load of benefits for your business, it also makes it vulnerable to attack by hackers. Your security should be one of the topmost priorities. Make sure that the business automation software that you choose is well-equipped to avert any potential cyber-attack. Its provider should have an efficient Security Policy.
It should be certified with a 27001 ISO Certificate. This way, you can be assured that it has invested in technology, processes, and professionals to protect your company’s data.
7. Consider customization
If none of the business automation software available in the market suits your needs, go for developing a customized solution. This especially is necessary for big organizations with special requirements and enormous volumes of work. Having a customized automation solution will certainly add value to your firm.
A business automation software provider like NotifyVisitors can help you in this regard. It offers a great ready-made software with a complete suite of features, including AI and ML-powered operation, segmentation, personalization, cross-device and omnichannel customer engagement, conversion rate optimization, and analytics. You can also get a customized solution developed from it to suit your requirements.
Adopting business automation can help your business keep pace with the current digital transformation, continue operation, secure income sources, lower operational costs, collect funds promptly, streamline processes, maintain a favorable customer experience, prioritize tasks, and increase efficiency, all of which are essential during this crisis time. Several tasks like Procurement, Payroll, Time and attendance tracking, Helpdesk support, Expense approval, Employee Onboarding, etc., can be automated.
Implementing business automation involves several processes, including identifying the areas that need automation, coming up with a list of features needed, ensuring easy integration, testing for navigation and ease of use, using Intelligent Process Automation, and considering the support and security provided. And if none of the business automation software available in the market suits your needs, you should go for customizing one for you.